The number of suicides among teenagers in the last decade has become twice as high as among girls than among boys
According to new research, suicide rates among young girls are rising in the US and catching up on the number of boys that cost their own lives.
Men and boys are always at greater risk of dying from suicide – although attempts are more common among girls and women – but that gap is narrowing.
Since 2007, the number of suicides among girls has been almost twice as high as the number of suicides among boys.
And girls choose more violent means, such as hanging and choking, to take their own lives than in the past, a worrying departure, according to researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Suicide rates remain higher in both young (upper) and teenage (lower) boys, shown in blue, but the number or girls, shown in yellow, taking their own lives is increasing faster, reducing the gender gap, especially in 10 – up to 14 year olds
Young people in America are increasingly suffering from mental illnesses and are taking their own lives at an alarming rate.
From the 1970s to the 1990s, the number of suicides among young people and teenagers decreased.
But that trend reversed in 2007.
Since then, both boys and girls have plagued a marked increase in suicide rates among young people and teenagers, because the rates of depression and anxiety have had similar peaks in the US.
And suicide among girls has since the period described by the research data only increased public attention, since the Netflix series 13 Reasons led to a national conversation about the mental health of teenagers.
Between 1975 and 2016, 68,085 boys and 16,966 girls between 10 and 19 took their lives.
The suicide rates among youngsters, 10-14 years old, slowly crept up through the early 1990s and then dropped to 2007.
Since then, the largest increase in suicides among these younger children.
The number of girls ‘suicides increased by 12.7 annually after 20007, while the number of boys’ suicides increased by only 7.1 percent year after year.
Between 1975 and 1991, boys and girls died of suicide in a ratio of 3.14: one.
From 2007 to 206, that gap narrowed to 1.8 in one.
Historically, girls and women in the US have had more suicide attempts, but boys and men are more likely to die from suicide.
In the first place, this is due to the way each gender chooses to end its own life.
Men and boys usually choose more violent means, shoot or hang themselves.
Women and girls, on the other hand, have traditionally had the best chance of poisoning themselves, a statistically less deadly method of suicide.
But that too is changing.
The gap in the use of firearms among boys and girls continues to grow, but the difference in suspension or suffocation disappears between both 10 to 14 year olds and 15 to 19 year olds.
“It is worrying that a growing number of young women are opting for this more violent and deadly method because well-documented female individuals have higher suicide attempts,” the study authors wrote.
‘Most young people who commit suicide die on their first attempt, with the probability of death on the first attempt being associated with the method’s fatality.
“Consequently, a long-term shift to a very deadly method such as suspension or suffocation by young women can have serious consequences for public health and increase suicide rates.”
Ensuring that children – and adults – do not have access to lethal drugs such as weapons is a top priority in suicide prevention.
But the findings of the study underline that even people – especially young girls – who historically probably don’t seem to take their own lives in a violent way, are increasingly doing so and need to be protected from weapons and tools that can help their suicides.